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Stuck with slow broadband? New Ofcom rules might not help

Ofcom’s new rules to let punters walk away from sub-par broadband connections might not be quite as helpful as they first appeared.

Ofcom recently flexed its regulatory muscles and introduced new rules which would ostensibly allow users stuck on slow broadband connections to terminate their contract early, without being charged some kind of get-out fee. However, owing to dastardly small print found in some of those contracts, only a tiny fraction of the estimated 13 million households stuck on slow broadband can actually use the rules to sort out their dodgy download speeds.

The sticking point is what your ISP quoted as the “minimum guaranteed” speed on your contract. If your speeds are routinely below that particular threshold you’ll be able to challenge your service provider and, after allowing them sufficient time to fix the issue, be permitted to move on to another provider.

However, according to a report in the Telegraph, only around 10 per cent of the 22 million homes with broadband will likely be supported by Ofcom’s new regulations. Everyone else, whose connections serve up a speed just a smidge above the “minimum guaranteed” cut-off, will be forced to wait out their contract or face a hefty bill of up to £625.

Only last week, consumer champion Which? took-up the fight against ISPs who overbill their broadband offerings with lofty “up to” speed estimates which don’t fairly or adequately represent the actual speeds.

Having pored over Ofcom’s UK Fixed-Line Broadband Performance report, which came out back in November 2014, the company found that only one per cent of consumers on BT and Plusnet’s 76Mbps deals and four per cent of customers on TalkTalk’s 17Mbps deal were receiving the top-end speeds, which feature prominently in advertising material.

If your connection’s iffy and you’ve given your ISP ample opportunity to fix it, your next stop should be the T’s and C’s in your contract, which should allow you to determine your “minimum guaranteed” speed. If your speeds fall below that line, then get back in touch with your provider. You’ll likely be one of the few beleagured surfers who are able to walk away unpunished. You can check if your broadband is particularly slow using our broadband speed test tool.

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